Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Claimant and Claimee

Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld

- Toen ve-Nitan

If a claim concerning tangible, movable property is made against someoneand he admits to part of it or there is a single witness against him or heis a renter or watcher, he must take an oath and is then excused, as itsays "[On every matter of wrongdoing...] about which he says `This is it' [the matter of the two of them shall come before the judges]"1; if herefuses to swear he must pay. If he denies the entire claim or if theclaim concerns real estate or the like he can (rabbinically) take an oathand be excused or he can require that the claimant take an oath. The sages required certain persons to take oaths before collecting what is due them -- for example, a hired worker or an injured party; they also institutedoaths between partners and the like. It is forbidden to make false claims, as it says "You shall keep far away from a false statement".

aMovable property found in someone's possession is presumed to be his evenif it is known that it once belonged to someone else, unless it is a thingthat is normally rented or loaned or he is a person who normally hasothers' property in his possession (for example, a craftsman) or it is ananimal that wanders freely. Real estate, however, is not presumed tobelong to the one in possession of it unless he has been in possession fora period of time sufficient for the owner to have protested; and even thisis not effective if he is a craftsman, sharecropper, guardian, partner orclose relative, or if he is a criminal or has legal disabilities.

bSources:1. Ex. 22:8 a. 1:1-6; 5:1; 16:9-102. Ex. 23;7 b. 8:1,3; 9:1; 10:1; 11:1-2; 13:1-2


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The author is Director of the Center for Automation Research at the University of Maryland in College Park.